Kahn You See Change?

Digital rhetoric.  My first thought that came to mind was Khan Academy.

I’ve read numerous articles and heard multiple arguments for and against it. Point blank: it is changing the way in which we learn and communicate certain subjects.

It is an interesting form of digital rhetoric in that students are able to watch videos and learn about various subjects they may be struggling with. I, personally, have benefited from watching a video here and there while struggling with math (which is definitely not my strong suit.)

The videos are structured for the audience. There are videos for elementary school kids, there are videos for other grade levels, and there are also resources for test prep.

This definitely changes the learning process. Instead of the need to sit in a classroom and learn a topic, students are able to do so digitally.  They can re-wind videos and also do practice problems to test their progress.  This completely changes the typical teacher-student dynamic.

The thought is that through these videos, students will be more interested in learning. There are graphics and drawings to aid in the learning, and providing the online service is a great way to measure knowledge on a subject.

I think as resources such as Khan become more readily available, there is a much greater chance that the way we learn in classrooms is going to change, too. In the last few years we have already incorporated laptops greatly into school curriculums, I am interested to see how this will continue to change in the future!

If you explore/use the Khan academy site, I am interested to hear your feedback and experiences!

Khan
Khan

“Free Paper Help”

So, currently in my BA class we are working on a big written project.

18-22 pages?  Oh, awesome.  No biggie, right?

It is very stressful, to say the least.  But at least it is a group project.  The reason I thought of this writing project immediately was because other than Writing 220, my BA class is the only other class I have been doing writing for this semester.

That’s why I really love that I have Writing 220 and BA as outlets for my creative side; it is a nice break from my other business classes that are more math and concept based.

I find it funny to compare writing in a business setting to the Minor in Writing setting. First of all, as soon as I was assigned my group for the BA project our conversation went something like this:

“What are everyone’s strengths for the upcoming project?  This will help us to delegate the upcoming workload.”

“Oh – Amanda you are in the Minor in Writing?!  Perfect.  You will be the one who holds the team up then.”

I find that this has been the case in a variety of instances at Ross.  The amount of times I have had fellow classmates come up to me asking me to look over their resumes or an email they are about to send because they know I am in the minor is too many to count.

Apparently, being in the Minor in Writing is equivalent to having a giant sign on my forehead saying “Free Paper Help.”

All I need is a machine spitting out waiting numbers (like at the secretary of state or grocery store) and I am good to go.

In the minor, I find my writing constantly challenged by those surrounding me.  This has been great.  I see what others are doing and it encourages me to take more risks as I see the positive payoffs.  Especially with the Repurposing projects – I keep hearing all of these great ideas and it makes me more encouraged to make my own piece more different.

So, as you can see, I am definitely getting the best of both worlds being in the minor and also being a business student.  I have an outlet for research through case studies of businesses I am interested in through my BA class; this allows me to take on a serious voice in the writing and work on a professional tone.  Yet, I also have the minor, which allows me to work on my voice in addition to my professional voice.

It is interesting to see the overlap of the two.  I find my more creative side showing through in my business writing which oftentimes makes for an interesting additional argument. Also, I find the more concise formatting of business-type papers oftentimes prevailing in a lot of my Writing 220 work.

Now all I need is to get these 22 pages over with.  Wish me luck!

22 pages later
22 pages later

Bring It On

I find myself constantly defining words.

Whether it is something I’m reading or pondering about, I oftentimes catch myself defining words just so I can get a better grasp of what I am truly searching for in them.  And yes, I am THAT person who enjoys going to dictionary.com and exploring the new word of the day.  Typical minor in writing thing to do, right?

So, here’s my progression with this project:

Repurposing Project.  Repurpose (verb): adapt for use in a different purpose.  I found it really interesting that the definition used the word adapt.  When I think of this word, I think of adjusting to new conditions; this helped me to envision what I needed to do.

I need to adapt what I already have for a new outlet.  This made me feel better in knowing that I didn’t have to start anew with my topic.  My original thought was that I might have to since I wasn’t quite sure how to turn reflective passages and letters into an article.  But, hey, I chose to be a writer for a reason, right?

Bring it on.

What I found most interesting about my research on gratitude, which is my topic for this project, is that most other articles in The New Yorker relating to it are about the holidays.  In fact, many of the articles I found online via other magazines discussed gratitude in the same manner.  Most of them focused on Thanksgiving, in particular.

So, why is this the case?  Why do we put such an emphasis on gratitude at these times of the year and not at others?

This very fact proved to me that my choice of writing a magazine article on this topic is something that is needed.

But then this happened…

Writer's Block
Writer’s Block

I got all of these great ideas about my exigence and didn’t know what to do with them!

Since that happened, I focused mainly on the layout of my article.  I know that I want to start off with a catchy title in a large, bold font.  My goal is to make the title a short phrase.  I also would like to use two images since this will be a longer article.  Upon researching other articles done by The New Yorker, I have learned that they do not include captions with their images; this is a stylistic choice I will have to be aware of.

Also, I found an article that has influenced my ideas for this project:

Mother’s Day Article

I really enjoyed how the writer’s personal narrative flowed into their argument and facts.  As I continue the early writing stages of my article, I plan on keeping this in mind and mirroring this progression of buildup in my own.

But I still have a few questions.

What kind of tone should I aim for – should it be more relaxed and relatable, or should it be more serious?

Also, what do you think about balancing personal narrative with research?  Should I focus on one more than the other?

Please let me know in the comments below!

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A Grateful Mindset

Sometimes when I hear a new project prompt I get excited as an idea immediately pops into my head and I think of an infinite  amount of ways to knock it out of the park.  I pretty much feel like the Babe Ruth of project ideas in that moment.

Other times I find myself sitting dumbfounded in front of a blank word document telling myself, “Okay, Amanda, just write something.”

For “Project 2 – Repurposing an Argument” I interestingly found myself somewhere in between these two extremes.  I immediately knew what pieces of writing I wanted to use and what my theme was going to be.  The issue was that I could not make up my mind as to what avenue would be best for presenting the information.  In fact, I still feel a little lost.

These are the two pieces of writing I am working with:

  1. The first piece consists of various journal entries I wrote reflecting back on childhood experiences that I am grateful for.  These experiences range from a time I got into an accident to reflecting on a holiday with my family.
  2. The second piece is very different since it is a series of letters that I wrote.  Some were written with the intent of thanking those close to me.  Others were written in a more apologetic tone; something I have discovered through gratitude is that addressing the “bad” only benefits in the long run since you are able to focus more on the good times in the future.  In my experience, I have learned that no one really likes to hold a grudge.  Unless you’re the Grinch.  But even his heart grew by the end of the movie – see, gratitude can help! (Perfect segue into Amanda talking endlessly about the health benefits of gratitude).

My goal is to turn these pieces into a magazine article for The New Yorker through the genre, new journalism.  The intended audience is for college students, but I honestly believe that this article will end up being applicable to people of all ages.  I have chosen this specific mode because it will allow me to add personal narrative to my informative article.

In my opinion, adding personal experience to research on this topic is the best way of combining my two pieces of writing.  I am interested to see what I discover through my research, but I know that I want to focus on things such as lifespan, happiness, and the impact of being grateful on those around you.

Gratitude is important and I want to share this with others because learning to be a grateful spirit early in life can only help in the long run.

~~

The following link is to my project proposal.  Please feel free to leave feedback!

Amanda Kemmer’s Repurposing Project Proposal

A Witty WordPress

I’ve never been one to follow blogs before.

Ever.

Whenever I have stumbled upon blogs in the past it has always been people who show craft ideas, talk about their family, or talk about food.  Not my sort of read.

So, when asked to find a favorite blog to recommend to my class you can imagine my dismay.  Should I find something funny or serious?  What if something I find humorous/interesting is just a giant flop?

My first attempt: “Hmmm let’s Google search ‘blog’ and see what I can find…”

If you are looking for 518 million search results then much respect to you.  Not ideal for me, though.  I then tried looking up celebrity blogs but, still, nothing resonated with me.  I felt so frustrated.

In my last attempt, I decided to find other people, like me, who are writing blogs via WordPress.  This is where I had my “aha” moment.

After perusing through different layouts, I discovered “Funny for Nothing”.  It is a blog with the caption ‘the world as I see it’ plainly written on a simple red, black, and white webpage.  Nothing too fancy….perfect for me.

I loved reading through the various posts because the author’s humor and storytelling was great.  Some of the material was over-the-top, but that’s what made it even better.  For example, in one of the author’s posts they were talking about the incident in the World Cup where Suarez bit another player and they said, “In the world of Twilight and similar wild, exciting vampire romances, a 27-year old Uruguayan footballer can hardly be expected to not indulge in a little experimentation.”  This made me laugh so hard.

It’s pretty clear that the audience for this blog is for a younger crowd and individuals looking for a good laugh.  The exigence is everyday mishaps for this individual.

They write about their difficulties in school and with physical exercise.

They write to tell you about something that interests them.

They write to be heard.

The comedic nature is what makes it unique; their voice shines through in a different and exciting way.  The author and I share a similar sense of humor which is why these posts had such an impact on me.

It was through looking at these posts that I discovered why they write.  But it was through reflecting on why I continued to read them that I discovered why I enjoyed them so much.

I read to laugh.

I read to learn.

And most importantly, I read to immerse myself into a story.

~~

Below is an image of the blog. If you are looking for a good laugh, I highly recommend the post “The trauma of packing is emotional baggage.”  You will not be disappointed!

To their page: http://funnyfornothingblog.wordpress.com/page/2/

Screenshot of the blog
Funny For Nothing Blog

A Sense for Style

Upon reading our class schedule for the day, I was a little shocked when I saw the words “style masquerade” listed as our activity. The word masquerade automatically made me think of costumes and masks – all things that are used to cover up.

I immediately thought to myself: “Why would we possibly want to cover up our style? Isn’t that what makes our writing/appearance unique?”

Little did I know how rewarding this activity would be. I used a very formal essay I had written about the novel, Emma, and took on the challenge of turning a paragraph into something that Ernest Hemingway would write.  Did I emphasize the word challenge enough? Good.

For anyone who knows how Ernest Hemingway writes, it definitely is a style of its own. He uses a lot of parallel structure and writes in a concise conversational tone that emulates a lot tension. Quite different from the lengthy complex sentences that generally overpower my essays.

Although it was difficult to reproduce his style from my writing sample, I was proud of my final product. In fact, the newer version was more playful in tone and had more drama.

So…what’s the point?

After this activity and talking about Style chapters in class, I ultimately realized where I can improve. What I learned was that this was not about covering up our style, per se. It was more about seeing another way.

I think of style as the phrase “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” Sure, you can speed walk the mile to get back to your old ways. But, if you take a chance to look around, you will gain a new perspective that will only enhance your own uniqueness in the long run.

~~~~

What Writing is to Me

Writing in current-day society has lost a lot of the formality that once defined every handwritten sentence.  In the past, monks used to spend hours transcribing written texts and embellishing pages through extensive processes using rarities, such as gold leaf. But has a lessening of this more formal form of writing decreased what counts as writing in general?  I, along with my fellow Writing 220 classmates, would like to think not.

Upon reflecting on what writing means to us, we discovered just how many genres of writing exist.  We also learned that “writing” means something very different to each individual.

One of my fellow classmates chose an email as an example of something that counts as writing to her. This interested me greatly because prior to this assignment I did not realize just how essential this subform of writing is to me. An email requires professionalism when done in a business environment but can also offer a space for humor or storytelling for friends, family, and acquaintances. Thus, it creates a forum for imagination and seriousness, all depending on the situation. In this sense, it gives the author a lot of power over how their words will be perceived.

Another interesting example was that of the image of room 5 of Pompeii. Many of us have heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” and it is fascinating just how true this is. What I love about works of art is that interpretation depends solely on the viewer. It is a fascinating way of viewing writing – the observer essentially becomes the storyteller.

These examples, among many others, gave me great insight into modern-day writing. Emails, text messages, statuses, and tweets are all great ways of communicating quickly and efficiently. A sense of conciseness and directness encompasses these modes, and viewing how these forms impact my life made me realize the importance of directness in writing in order to maintain an audience.

The use of paintings and calligraphy also made me realize that a lot of our ways of writing have not changed over the years. There still is an appreciation for the written text.  Paintings, logos and other depictions still have great meaning in our lives, even many years later.

As a Minor in Writing student at the University of Michigan, learning what writing means to me is essential. I discovered that to me, writing is a sense of expressiveness and freedom. It is a way of gaining the respect of others, a way of telling a story in a new way, and a way of getting a message across in the best way possible. By using it to express my voice clearly and concisely, I have discovered that writing today, in even 140 characters or less, is still just as strong as ever.